Wednesday 21 August 2019

Intercontinental boss warns of 'white elephants' as sector slows


Nicky Logue. Photo: Mark Condren
Nicky Logue. Photo: Mark Condren

Fearghal O'Connor

The Intercontinental Dublin hotel has increased its profits with double-digit growth following a €10m investment but its general manager has warned that Dublin needs to be careful not to end up with white-elephant hotels.

"It's fair to say that this hotel - like most hotels in Dublin recently - has done very well with double-digit growth in the last number of years," said Nicky Logue, general manager of the five-star property in Ballsbridge.

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Sales were up 12pc last year on the previous year - with profits also up a similar amount - and the hotel is running at about 80pc occupancy.

"But this year we are tapering our projections," Logue said. "There is some 'normalising' going on in the market. Although we have seen double-digit growth in the last few years, we are definitely looking at single-digit growth this year, probably around 5pc."

Logue said that he sensed that this was happening across the Irish market because of companies holding off on spending due to Brexit and also because of the US government shutdown earlier in the year. "We need to make sure that we don't lose the run of ourselves. There is planning for a lot more hotels in the next few years but I think what is going on this year might change things and some plans may need to be tapered."

Most of the hotels planned for the capital are three- and four-star and Logue said that he did not see much room to add to the 10 existing five-star properties that are already in the city.

It is understood that the Spice Girls were guests at the hotel over the weekend, although he declined to comment. "We can't confirm or deny, but we've had a few high-profile people this week all right," he said.

"We get a lot of that business. We have captured that market and we are back in with a lot of the entertainment agencies as a result of a lot of work that we have done over the last number of years."

And that is not the only work that has been under way at the Intercontinental since becoming part of the MHL Collection - now Ireland's second-largest hotel group with 11 high-end properties. Under a €10m investment programme the entire hotel has been refurbished and it will grow to 216 rooms by the end of the year.

When MHL took over the hotel in 2015 it was "probably not making much money and a bit tired", said Logue. "We are now winning back a lot of the business that had dropped over the years."

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